"I have proudly been involved in volunteer and public service from my days of attending public schools in Milwaukie to serving on the Concord Library Task Force. We need to bring balance to the legislature now more than ever. Improving our schools, making our communities more affordable to live in to eliminate houselessness, and to rein in reckless spending in Salem are top priorities. Public service is my passion, and I will do what it takes to help find solutions and get things done."
*This photo of Michael in civilian clothes with a military helicopter does not imply an endorsement from the Dept. of Defense
LIST OF ISSUES
The key to Oregon's economic future is through securing quality education for the youth of Oregon. The top priority in education funding should be to guarantee that money earmarked for education makes it to the classroom instead of bloated retirement accounts. Too often we have been sold legislation promising money to classrooms only to watch it fund something else in our state budget. No more. We need to demand accountability in our education budget priorities.
It dismays me that Oregon high school graduation rates rank among the worst in the United States. We owe it to our children and the future of this state to do better than the results that you can read about below:
Oregon graduation rates: the best and the worst (The Oregonian)
The days of using our children's future as a pawn in budget negotiations needs to end now.
BUSINESS, THE BUDGET & OUR ECONOMY
The state legislature should provide and foster an environment upon which businesses can grow and expand. With an economic downturn on our heels courtesy of COVID-19, Oregon is woefully unprepared to help our businesses recover quickly as Forbes says "Oregon stands out as the state where lawmakers did perhaps the most unnecessary harm to taxpayers, both individuals and businesses, in the months leading up to this partial shutdown."
How do we fix this? We start by listening to the voters and scrapping bad legislation like Measure 97, the gross receipts tax that Oregonians rejected years ago, but legislators passed a clone despite voter rejection. We say no to cap and trade, misguided legislation that caters to special interests and does nothing to change the climate. We eliminate suffocating taxes, fees, and simplify regulations to help businesses work with state agencies more efficiently in contracting and permitting processes.
The bottom line is that we have NO MORE capacity to tax right now in light of what has happened to our economy. Calls for higher taxes in an environment of high unemployment and strained businesses is not the answer right now, and the current legislature hasn't seen a tax they didn't like.
The legislatures appetite for spending has no bounds. They've routinely taken taxpayer kicker money, which they feel they can spend better than the families it belongs to. I have had experience managing government budgets and I feel that the government should have to live within their means just like families in Oregon do every day. If there are ways to save money, we should be good stewards of taxpayer resources and curb fraud, waste, and abuse in government. The legislature owes it to Oregonians to be accountable and treat OUR tax dollar resources with the utmost respect.
Government solutions for health care are the wrong path for us to take. Having worked for Providence Health & Services billing in the past, and being a recipient of government run health care in the VA, I believe that a cultural change and reforms in how health care is provided and received is needed.
The issues surrounding our health care crisis include: social detriments to health, out of control lawsuits, all-access insurance.
Social detriments to health - Looking at what influences health, like housing, education, geography, and other social factors can have a profound impact on health outcomes for individuals and communities. Like a house of cards, if we aren't supporting things like education which supports our economy which supports Oregonians with good jobs which helps provide access to pay for or gain health care - the house will fall and people will be left behind. Looking at the big picture to provide means to overcome social detriments will have a profound impact in keeping our communities healthier. Supporting legislation that promotes good jobs for our communities helps solidify our health care house of cards from falling.
Out of control lawsuits - Our current legal system encourages lawsuits against medical professionals when juries award astronomical sums to patients and their families. While we must provide protection for malpractice and adequate health care, we must also protect our current system from rewarding trial lawyers and bring the focus back to protecting patients.
All-access or Medicare for all solutions - These ideas while noble, are not affordable. The cultural change in health care being seen as a "takes care of everything" solution understandably would be expensive; and it is expensive as it is. Expecting health insurance to completely pay for every doctor visit and every pill will make costs rise.
We need to examine reforms that create competition and help lower costs for care and prescription drugs.
Ideas like Association Health Plans that could potentially allow employers to form groups across state lines to offer health care coverage to their employees by banding together - workers could have access to a broader range of insurance options at lower rates. This is an idea being discussed in the NCSL - National Conference of State Legislatures, and it's worth a look by the state of Oregon.
By fostering a cultural shift of accountability for our personal health so we aren't using an emergency room when an urgent care clinic or visit to the doctor the next day would suffice will contribute greatly to the reduction in the cost of access to medical care. How do we know this would work? Auto-insurance companies have been returning insurance premiums for the reduction of accidents that have occurred during the COVID-19 shutdown.
The bottom line is that Oregon cannot afford mistakes costing Oregonians hundreds of millions on websites like CareOregon that never work. Managing our health care resources and polices better needs to be a priority of the legislature.
HONORING OUR VETERANS
Expanding upon services and care for those who have served honorably for our country is important. As a US Army veteran of conflict in Syria and Iraq, it pains me to see my brothers and sisters in arms struggle when they are discharged from the military and find adjusting to civilian life difficult. Measure 96 was passed several years ago by 84 percent to 16 percent to set aside 1.5 percent of Oregon Lottery funds for services such as education, housing, health care and assistance for veterans. It was expected to generate $18 million over the first two year period to support veterans.
Governor Kate Brown reduced it. It is despicable that we would let our veterans down this way. This also follows a common theme of the Governor and the Democratic majority in the legislature ignoring the will of the voters.
In the Soldier's Creed we vow that "I will never leave a fallen comrade." Just like we don't leave our comrades behind overseas, in the legislature, I won't allow promises to be broken to Oregonians who have served and fallen on hard times.
Congestion in the metro area has become worse every year. We need to invest in our roads and infrastructure to reduce traffic. In Portland they have reduced lanes as a solution to this problem - if you had heart congestion, would you restrict arteries as a solution? I will fight any attempt to place tolls on our highways that we already pay handsomely for through vehicle registrations, gasoline taxes, property taxes, etc.
Alternative transportation is great, but we are not meeting the needs of a growing population that will continue to drive vehicles and require delivery vehicles for goods and services.
We must have a compassionate reaction to help with addiction and mental illness to bring the disenfranchised to self reliance. There are successful programs being implemented - but most are triggered when someone commits a crime. We need to expand recovery options for those plagued by addiction to get them off the streets before they commit a crime.
Passing state rent control has had unintended consequences of hurting the very renters it was supposed to protect. Rent control has also caused investment in multifamily residences to drop. The legislature should have reached out to landlords and investors and worked with them on solutions for housing, instead of imposing their will upon them and steering many away from providing new housing. We can still repair this relationship by reforming this ill conceived rent control law, a law and theory that has never worked in any major city it has ever been implemented in.